CLEVELAND — Manufacturing drives nearly 50 percent of Northeast Ohio’s economy but many companies have long complained the lack of a skilled workforce is holding back their growth and that of the region.
Tuesday, local business leaders announced a new plan aimed at training future high-tech manufacturer workers and to help companies innovate.
The announcement featured several leaders from Northeast Ohio manufacturers, including Nordson Corp., and a host of local nonprofits that work on economic development.
Leaders have talked about closing the skills-gap for decades, hyping various plans and nonprofits that have claimed to have the right formula.
The latest plan is dubbed “Make It Better.” The driving force behind it is MAGNET, a nonprofit manufacturing consultant that assists local companies.
MAGNET CEO Ethan Karp told 3News that today’s announcement is not about creating a new entity or even a new plan – but providing a blueprint that everyone can follow.
It starts in Glenville, with a playground and an old school. And the manufacturing muscle of the corporate community, which showed up today to talk about the blueprint.
“Manufacturing is in our blood but what we need is a helpful nudge,” Elizabeth Barry, CEO of Delta Systems, a Streetsboro company that makes electronic components.
More than a 100 companies and groups pledged today to follow the new blueprint – two years in the making -- with the goal of making Northeast Ohio a leader in manufacturing.
The plan aims to attract kids early to manufacturing careers to fill the pipeline early with skilled workers, getting them thinking about schools like Cuyahoga Community College, which already offers an advanced manufacturing training program.
“Manufacturing does not run on machines, it runs on people,” Karp said. “And we need people trained and excited about the opportunities that a career in manufacturing can provide them.”
MAGNET will move its headquarters into the school, remake it with a large lobby, fill it with technology and workspace for companies. The Cleveland schools will also house a manufacturing program inside.
And even the playground will be transformed and have a connection to science with help from the Great Lakes Science Center.
“This physical space and this blueprint can be two pieces of the puzzle that can excite them to help them tap into this amazing resource that we have here," Karp added.
During a speech, Karp praised GOJO, the local company that makes Purell sanitizer, as an example of what a companies with good leadership and a skilled workforce can do. The blueprint offers manufacturers best practices for networking, attracting and training talent and on leading a company.
You can read MAGNET's blueprint below:
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